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Gunmen attack bar in Burundi's capital, killing at least nine people

Violent incidents have gripped Burundi since April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a third term despite the country's constitution allowing only two.

By Fred Lambert
Gunmen attack bar in Burundi's capital, killing at least nine people
Burundians stand near a market in the capital, Bujumbura, in August 2006. On Nov. 7, 2015, gunmen stormed a bar in Bujumbura and killed at least nine people. The killings came on a government deadline for Burundians to turn in illegal weapons. Photo by Geordie Mott/ Wikimedia Commons

BUJUMBURA, Burundi, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- Gunmen killed at least nine people in a bar in Burundi's capital Saturday, the same night as a government deadline for citizens to turn in illegal weapons.

Xinhua new agency quoted local administrator Bosco Girukwishaka as saying the incident occurred at Au Coin des Amis, a bar in the Kanyosha area south of Bujumbura, and that the gunmen ordered the "bar cashier and all the people who were taking drinks to give them all the money and other valuable objects that they had."

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Voice of America reported witnesses said the assailants wore police uniforms and ordered patrons outside the bar to enter before opening fire.

Girukwishaka told Xinhua the gunmen shot "each and everyone" after ordering them to lie down. Seven were killed instantly, two others died in the hospital.

Burundi has been plagued by a wave of violence that began in April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he was running for a third term despite a constitutional provision allowing a president to serve only two terms.

Nkurunziza was elected in June with 70 percent of the vote following an attempted coup by military leaders the month prior.

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Saturday's shooting came the same night as a government deadline for citizens to turn in illegal weapons. The BBC reports Burundians were fleeing the capital and other parts of the country as the deadline loomed, and that Nkurunziza warned those who refused to comply with the measure would be "dealt with as enemies of the nation."

VOA quoted State Department spokesperson John Kirby as saying the United States was "particularly concerned... inflammatory rhetoric" by some Burundian officials and a planned security crackdown would increase the risk of violence.

The BBC, meanwhile, quoted Rwandan President Paul Kagame condemning the violence in neighboring Burundi, saying, "People are being killed every day, bodies are found on the streets... Leaders are spending time killing people."

Since April, about 200 people have been killed in Burundi, while some 200,000 have fled for neighboring Tanzania or Rwanda.

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